By Paul Workman
KABUL (CTV Network) — Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul was turned into a fortress to defend itself against the Taliban, but now it’s Taliban fighters that are guarding the soaring concrete walls and layers of armoured barriers — all while a humanitarian crisis of hunger grows in the city.
There is currently no security problem for Taliban fighters to contend with, says one local commander.
“Everyone can see, including you, it’s never been safer to travel,” he told CTV National News.
Perhaps it’s because the Taliban are no longer sending out suicide bombers to kill people.
Another paradox of the city is markets filled with an abundance of fruit, vegetables and meat, in a country where millions are close to starvation.
The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, has warned that over half of Afghanistan’s population are facing “extreme levels of hunger,” and nearly nine million people are on the brink of famine.
The problem isn’t a lack of food, it’s a lack of paying jobs, residents say.
When people were working, they were buying fruit, one man told CTV National News. Until the Taliban arrived and the economy collapsed.
Now, kids are scavenging for plastic bottles they can sell. A man hocks flimsy blankets to make but a few cents.
A former security guard clutching his CV feels defeated.
“Here, there is food,” he says. “But when you don’t have money, how can you buy rice or vegetables?”
And in contrast to the market’s abundance is another sign of the city’s hunger: babies suffering from acute malnutrition.
One family has a two-year with a skin condition and a father struggling with a drug addiction.
“Sometimes he would come with food,” says the child’s mother. “But otherwise there was nothing.”
“They are like my own children,” says the ward supervisor. “I’m so sad when I see them in this situation.”
This is already a difficult winter in Afghanistan, and it’s possible, says aid groups, more children could die of starvation than all the civilians killed during 20 years of war.
With files from CTVNews.ca‘s Alexandra Mae Jones
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